Abta leaders want the association’s future chairmen to be appointed by the board rather than elected by members.
The Abta board will propose the change at a General Meeting on November 10 in the hope members agree.
Abta issued notice of the proposed change this morning, saying members will be asked to consider “a number of proposals”, one of which will be an amendment to the process of selecting the chairman.
The proposal could be controversial as it would move ultimate control of the way the association is run from elected representatives to a board dominated by appointees.
The new arrangement would not only reduce the elected members on the 14-strong board from five to four, but also remove members’ direct say in who holds the most important position.
The chairman leads discussion on the board and has responsibility for appointing and, if necessary, removing the chief executive – who, in turn, oversees the Abta bureaucracy.
Under existing rules, candidates for chairman must be nominated and seconded by board members, yet current chairman Noel Josephides had to win a contested election to take the role in 2013.
Abta proposes that “in future the chair will be appointed by the board from among its members”.
This would also remove the ability for members to propose an alternative candidate.
The association notes: “This is a model commonly used in organisations to ensure the efficient running of the board and reflects the increasingly technical demands of the chairman role.”
However, it means future Abta boards could be made up of 10 appointed and only four elected members, when its articles of association assert Abta should be “fully representative of travel agents and tour operators”.
Chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “The most important role of the chair is to manage the board meetings and debates that take place around the Abta board table.
“We have been fortunate in that recent chairmen have had deep experience of the industry in general and of Abta’s agenda in particular.
“The best way to ensure this continued level of expertise is for the board to appoint a chair who has been part of the ongoing discussions, understands the context and the issues, and has built a working relationship with fellow directors.”
Tanzer reassured members: “Abta members will continue to elect directly a number of the board positions and the board will continue to be fully representative of the Abta membership as a whole.”
Abta moved from having a president to a chairman in 2009 when the current requirement to have candidates for chairman nominated by board members was introduced.
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